De Beers and NUM reach agreement on Kimberley mines closure

De Beers has submitted a plan for the closure of the 100-year-old Kimberley mines that will result in the loss of 693 jobs—far fewer than the approximate 1,000 jobs that were expected to be lost when the mining giant first announced the closure in August.

De Beers began talks with the National Union of Mineworkers in July concerning the closure of Wesselton, Dutoitspan and Bultfontein mines. An agreement was reached on Nov. 16, De Beers said in a statement.

De Beers said it is closing the mines because they have been operating at a loss since 2003.

Under the new plan, the two tailings-processing plants in Kimberley, the Combined Treatment Plant and the New Treatment Plant, would continue to run, and has an expected life based on current technology to 2014, De Beers. Together with small miners, these operations contributed 90% of Kimberley’s diamond production, and will continue to produce about two million carats per year.

De Beers has also invested in other projects in the area which are expected to create jobs, including an upgrade of the Big Hole project to attract tourists, centralizing some of its group shared services functions in Kimberley to serve other South African operations, and its fourth small mining partnership with Superkolong.

The plan has been presented to the Northern Cape Provincial Government, the Department of Minerals and Energy and the Num for comment.